North Texas Daily

Home economics is a necessity for college students

Home economics is a necessity for college students

Home economics is a necessity for college students
August 09
13:00 2021

Our K-12 education is not what it used to be. Much of the curriculum we see in schools nowadays is based on testing and how to receive higher test scores. We see this in the way subjects are taught and classes are structured.

In Texas, students begin standardized testing in the third grade and continue to up until they graduate. It is required that students in grades 3-8 be tested once a year in selected core courses, taking up to five standardized tests by the time they reach high school. Its purpose? To improve students’ educational success.

It wasn’t always like this. School curriculums used to offer a wider variety of subjects and worked to help “professionalize domestic labor” to give women the opportunity to work outside of the home through home economics classes.

While it initially had a lot of gender norm undertones that focused on women being good housewives and homemakers, this changed with the times. Home economics’s main purpose is to give students confidence when making a meal, that it doesn’t need to be perfect and that they can think outside the box.

Carol Werhan, a home economics teacher and member of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, states that some of the skills taught in these classes transcend the home and can be applied in other aspects of a students’ life. It can give a student a very valuable tool that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives: balance.

This isn’t far from the truth, given that cooking is not the only thing taught in these classes. Students are taught how to shop for groceries, create a budget, how to read food labels and mend their clothes — so many skills applicable in other aspects of life.

The availability of courses related to home economics began to be offered a lot less after 1957 when the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite. The launch was enough to incentivize U.S. educators to refocus education toward math and science.

Today, this is reinforced with the continued defunding of arts programs all over the country. With the limited opportunities to take home economics classes. There has been a 38 percent decline in students enrolled in these classes since 2003. Anything that isn’t STEM-oriented is being cut.

This leaves so many new adults less equipped than previous generations. For many students, the opportunity to learn these skills at home is often missed. Children and young adults aren’t taught home economics by either of their parents. Many of their parents weren’t taught these skills either.

This directly contributes to why we don’t know what a proper diet looks like or how to shop for one or where to begin. Even with the various options for online grocery shopping or meal kit deliveries, they are choosing to eat out. Newer generations, such as Millennials and Gen-Z, prefer getting snacks at convenience stores or eating out. This directly impacts health.

Restaurants, especially fast-food establishments, serve food that is calorie dense. Posing several health risks such as obesity and chronic diseases. Since most people are not being taught to read their food labels correctly or have the capacity to understand how to portion their food, the health risks are high.

Not being taught basic home economics isn’t only detrimental to our health but our pockets too. As college students, we probably think it is easier to order something over UberEats or Doordash instead of figuring out what to buy at the store and cook it. And after very long nights full of assignments and studying, it is. But it is so easy to lose track of our spending. Sometimes $5 meals from McDonald’s end up being at least 30 percent more expensive with fees pilling up. We’ve all been there.

Both our health and our pockets are at risk if something isn’t done to offset the lack of education in basic home economics. Our education system must begin by revising what courses they offer and which ones are mandatory. In Texas, high schoolers must take two semesters of any physical education class to graduate. You can’t outwork a bad diet. For these two semesters of P.E. to make an impact on these students’ health, it must be paired up with a class that will teach kids how to get around the kitchen. It will give students the confidence they need in the kitchen and the ability to shop for groceries and manage their money better.

As for the rest of us, YouTube and Pinterest are great places to start. You can find meal plans and budget layouts on Pinterest for free.  On YouTube, you can find step-by-step cooking videos that can help you conquer any recipe.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Tania Amador

Tania Amador

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